What if you could have all the information you need about your utility or work truck fleet at your fingertips?
How valuable would it be to know exactly how many vehicles your fleet needs, when preventive maintenance is required, total vehicle emissions, and more?
Every fleet manager’s goal is to maximize productivity and minimize costs. Most of the information needed to accomplish this goal is available but not easily accessible.
A universal problem most fleet industries suffer today is the inordinate amount of siloed data generated from multiple systems. Because of this, it’s challenging for fleets to accurately track and report on performance — from preventive maintenance to fuel and emissions reporting to understanding the return on investment (ROI) on procured assets and technologies.
There is, however, one such platform that can solve this problem. With the combination of the cloud, big data, and “software as a service (SaaS),” the once siloed data is fully available in one easy-to-navigate dashboard with a business intelligence (BI) platform.
What is “business intelligence”? It may sound like a broad phrase, but it’s an umbrella term that includes access to data through applications, infrastructure, and tools that help you complete a certain task or create a reporting structure that streamlines operations.
One company is making some big moves in the BI world.
Work Truck spoke with Dennis Jaconi, a vice president of growth at Utilimarc.
With more than 15 years in the SaaS industry helping to grow brands, products, and services — and six years specifically in the fleet technology space, Jaconi knows his business intelligence for fleets.
The Benefits of Business Intelligence for Fleets
The most significant benefit of software such as business intelligence is combining data from different sectors in a single, custom-reporting solution.
Having access to clean and standardized data helps fleet managers improve their fleet’s performance with daily visual dashboards of key metrics tracking along with drill-down capabilities for deeper analysis of what matters most to their organization.
Business intelligence platforms such as Utilimarc’s turn fleet data into actionable insights readily available and applicable to a fleet management’s strategy.
According to Jaconi, “Our data insights help companies and municipal governments to optimize their practices holistically – improving operational efficiencies, customer satisfaction, sustainability, and overall financial performance.”
Utilimarc works with many investor-owned utility fleets and utility contractors. These companies oversee large and diverse fleets across a hierarchy of operational companies and regional territories.
Some of the data connections available to clients in Utilimarc’s platform include:
- Electric vehicles and charge stations.
- Fleet management systems.
- Fuel card systems.
- ERP systems.
Imagine having access to all that data in one platform that is easy to read, understand and make actionable. It’s all possible with BI.
BI Offerings Available — Say Goodbye to Excel
Utilizing data can help enhance any business. When it comes to Utilimarc, their primary goal is to turn fleet data into actionable insights that are quickly applicable to management strategy.
The company’s data insights help utilities, municipal governments and other large fleets across North America optimize practices holistically by improving operational efficiencies, customer satisfaction, sustainability, and overall financial performance.
This applies to utility fleets as well. Business intelligence can improve a fleet directors management strategy in three main ways:
1. Saving Fleets Money
The best way to save money is by analyzing the data to find the best ways to take advantage of the fleet.
Reducing costs in a fleet can be done in three major ways:
- Fleet utilization.
- Fuel cost.
A thriving utility fleet usually has a mix of vehicles on hand — from light- to heavy-duty assets consisting of pickups, digger derricks, yellow-iron equipment and more.
With BI, managers can see which vehicles were in operation on any day, the recommended size of the fleet needed, as well as average utilization and availability. It takes the guesswork and time out of tracking fleet operations manually, while also creating a process to streamline reporting across the organization.
Along with rightsizing, the total cost of ownership reporting also helps fleets save money. By gathering data from other sources, such as OEMs, fleet managers have all the information on their vehicles on one screen. From that data, utility fleet managers know a truck’s required labor and parts, energy costs, and miles per gallon.
Utilimarc’s platform provides the total cost of ownership breakdown for fleets, which includes the cost of fuel, maintenance, ownership, and operation.
From that, fleet managers can use their data to maintain the lowest total ownership of all assets throughout their lifecycle more effectively. They can even compare their own costs with those of industry peers.
When it comes to Utilimarc’s BI platform, Jaconi said, “We work with our utility clients to help solve financial forecasting challenges, which is also a result of combining clean data into a single reporting environment. Through this process, we can deliver utility fleets with a comprehensive understanding of asset utilization and total cost of overall ownership costs followed by a rightsizing analysis and reporting to show cost reduction and asset replacement opportunities.”
2. Maximizing Fleet Productivity
Utility fleets can range in size from under 50 to thousands of vehicles and equipment assets.
No matter the size, keeping track of all the vehicles and drivers can be overwhelming — especially if the operational territory is large and encompasses multiple garages with different functionality. And if there’s one thing we can all agree on, paperwork tasks are our least favorite.
With BI, fleet managers can track driver and vehicle hours, required training, maintenance, collisions, individual assets, and more in one platform. It even removes the daunting tasks of manual reporting prone to human error. So say goodbye to spreadsheets.
Tracking these assets is helpful to any fleet. But what BI does is take it one step further. It also analyzes the data and provides helpful insights and resource allocations to maximize productivity.
Jaconi stated this is especially helpful for small fleets. “A great benefit of our BI platform for a small fleet is empowering them with insights on their underutilized data. A starting point for these fleets is our platform’s summary performance dashboards that provide a precursor, 360 view of their fleet — from safety metrics, fuel transactions and charge events, mechanic productivity, downtime, and availability of assets, etc.”
3. Reducing Overall Emissions
The road to sustainability has been a popular, albeit difficult, one these past few years. Reducing a company’s emissions is great for the business and the environment, though the path to get there is still one that’s not a one-size-fits-all approach.
BI helps fleets reach their emission goals by tracking fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions from engine times, fuel type, and vehicle type.
But the best part is that it can also turn that data into actionable strategies. BI shows managers how to optimize fuel consumption and purchasing patterns to reduce operation costs and emissions, as well as how they’re performing against the goals their organization has set in place.
What’s more, for fleets looking to go electric, Utilimarc has the capability to translate traditional vehicle metrics into electric vehicle KPIs and analyses that make sense for your fleet; showing what type of vehicles are the best candidates to transition to electric, along with the total energy used, MPGe, and charge events.
How to Take Advantage of Growing Intelligence
Utilimarc started 22 years ago as a company offering a benchmarking and fleet lifecycle product. It was designed explicitly for utility fleets and was based on operational data from fleet management and HR systems.
Since then, the company has expanded its analytical capabilities and developed a SaaS-based and data-agnostic Business Intelligence platform. With Utilimarc’s BI platform, it provides fleets with a single source of truth for vehicle and operational performance.
Jaconi’s advice to managers interested in transitioning to BI to improve their fleet’s operations is to “first have a process to ensure data quality.”
He added, “Bad data in equals bad data out. You need trust in the data for your fleet to leverage a BI platform. Also, ensure that you are working with a supportive data analytics team that understands fleet metrics. A BI platform isn’t like other SaaS products, where it’s largely self-serve with out-of-the-box reports and features. A BI platform should be customized to meet the organization’s needs wherever you’re at and help you grow.”